Email after email pours into inboxes around the region. The wording varies, but the message is the same — canceled, or postponed, if possible.
The COVID-19 pandemic has precipitated numerous measures recommended by health care professionals. designed to limit exposure and protect the public good. Washing hands, refraining from hugs or handshakes, staying home when sick and social distancing have all become the lingua franca of the novel virus commonly referred to as coronavirus.
The term that applies specifically to the cancellations of numerous events in Telluride is “social distancing.” The advice from public health officials to maintain a distance of six feet from others and to avoid large gatherings is what has driven the difficult decisions made by those locally, from nonprofit executive directors to the Telluride schools’ administrators, to close doors or cancel shows and other events. They join a long list of national organizations, sports leagues and the arts to do what they can to “flatten the curve” and slow community spread of the virus that exploded out of the Wuhan province in China.
Some event organizers such as SBG Productions, which runs the Durango Blues Trains and the Jazz and Blues & Brews Festivals, are monitoring the hourly updates before making a decision, as their events are later this spring and summer. Mountainfilm has so far elected to go on as scheduled May 22-25. But, wrote executive director Sage Martin, “Mountainfilm will follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and our local health authorities. Should the situation change, we will send news right away.”
Telluride Theatre’s production of “MacGyver the Musical” ran Thursday and Friday nights, but cancelled the final two shows. The show’s venue is within the Telluride Middle/High School, which school officials announced Friday would be closed through the end of spring break, April 19.
And, looking ahead, Artistic Director, Sasha Sullivan, made the call to postpone TT’s largest fundraiser, its Burlesque shows March 25-28, until an as-yet determined date. That decision creates a financial hardship as current ticket-holders, or those who would otherwise attend this month, may not be able to attend at a future date.
“We hope you will continue to support the event as it makes doing what we do possible,” the email read. “We, like so many nonprofit organizations that provide live event entertainment, will need your help and support in the coming months.”
Other nonprofits choosing to cancel events include Second Chance Humane Society (Furry Flicks and Fashion) and the Telluride Historical Museum (The 70s Shindig).
“While we hate to cancel this important fundraiser we believe it is the responsible action to take in light of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Kiernan Lannon, Executive Director of the museum. “The health and safety of our community and supporters is of utmost importance to the museum. We look forward to seeing everyone at a later date.”
The museum also announced late Friday it last would be Saturday (yesterday) and that its Daffodil Days fundraiser was to be scaled back.
“In an effort to promote social distancing, the spring fundraiser Daffodil Days will be taking place in a limited manner and will not include live sales at Alpine Bank or the Community Table on Colorado Avenue,” the museum’s statement read. “Bundles of daffodils are available for purchase online and over the phone and will be available for pick up at the Museum starting Monday (tomorrow). Those who order bundles of five or more can have the flowers delivered free of charge.”
The entertainment scene in town will be much quieter as the Nugget Theatre and the Sheridan Opera House have each closed for business until further notice. Nugget Theatre staff took the advice of San Miguel County’s Public Health Officer Sharon Grundy’s recommendation to cancel large gatherings and so closed their doors for the good of the community.
“The goals with our closure is to delay the rates of transmission and death by reducing the number of people who contract COVID-19 before an effective treatment or vaccine is available, protect the elderly and chronically ill, and to preserve and protect the health care system's capacity to respond,” said Nugget theatre manager, Luci Reeve.
Like Telluride Theatre, the nonprofit Sheridan Arts Foundation, which runs the opera house schedule of concerts, plays and other events, suggested making a donation to help sustain the historic theatre as its income stream is interrupted. Upcoming shows from the bands Galactic and Spafford were cancelled when those bands elected to suspend their tours, while subsequent shows were cancelled in joint decisions with opera house staff and the artists, including Bill and Jilian Nershi and Birds of Play.
Club Red’s Denise Mongan also let patrons and supporters know that its remaining shows for the winter season have been cancelled. And like others, she admitted the difficulty of the decision.
“These decisions do not come easy as we never want to disappoint you,” she wrote. “However, there is nothing more important than the health and safety of our patrons, volunteers, staff, artists, friends and most importantly our community who supports us.”
The Ah Haa School for the Arts and Telluride Foundation have also nixed the remaining classes, conferences and workshops on their respective calendars and Wilkinson Public Library, though not yet closing its doors, has also canceled the remainder of this season’s events and programs.
And, late Friday, the Telluride Nordic Center announced it will be closing for the season as of today (Sunday).
“The Telluride Nordic Center will close for the season (today) at noon due to the public health crisis associated with the rapid spread of the coronavirus,” said TNC director, Andrea Schlegel. “Thank you to all our valued customers for making our season successful.”
Notably, Telluride Ski Resort has elected to keep the lifts running until April 5, its scheduled closing day. In an email blast to its extensive list of recipients around the world, the ski area beckoned late season skiers to “Escape to Telluride,” along with an offer of lodging deals.
“Telluride Ski and Golf is committed to operating the ski area through our scheduled April 5 closing date,” Telski CEO Bill Jensen said. “Skier levels remain strong and we are looking forward to another successful upcoming spring break week.”
A frequently updated list of closures and more information surrounding local COVID-19 information can be found at telluridenews.com.